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Biden praises Filipinos in US for contributions, efforts in COVID-19 pandemic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 02 2021 11:51 AM | Updated as of Oct 02 2021 12:10 PM

MANILA— US President Joe Biden on Saturday expressed his gratitude to the Filipino community there over the years and through the COVID-19 pandemic, as the US marked Filipino American History month. 

In a statement, Biden said he and his wife Jill are proud to mark the occasion, saying it would give the public an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and milestones of Filipino Americans across the United States.

Biden cited the Filipinos' role in fighting on the frontlines of World War II.

He also touched on the importance of the 1965 Delano Grape Strikes led by Filipino-American Larry Itliong, which eventually led to "permanent changes that improved the conditions of farm labor" in the US.

The strike lasted 5 years. 

"With a recorded presence in the continental United States as far back as October 1587, Filipino Americans have served our nation, defended our democracy, and fought for the promise of a more just and inclusive America," Biden's statement read.

"Their contributions are reflected in some of our nation's triumphs and struggles," it added.

He also noted the sacrifices of "selfless" Filipino medical health workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some of whom died on duty. 

"Filipino Americans are an essential part of our nation's strength and diversity, a living reminder of the courage of immigrants, and a growing force in our civic movements and engagement," according to the US President.

"To our Filipino American community: thank you for all you do and for all you endure to make our union more perfect."

The US is one of the country's long-time allies. 

On Friday, the US government announced it would donate over 5 million Pfizer COVID-19 shots to the Philippines next week, which an American official described as "the largest-ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country."

Last July, President Rodrigo Duterte reversed the abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement after meeting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila. 

Last week, Washington reaffirmed the applicability of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) to the disputed and resource-rich South China Sea, just as it reiterated its commitment to assist the country in its efforts to modernize the armed forces.

The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, where China maintains constant presence despite an arbitral ruling junking their overwhelming claims.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, meanwhile, had said the Philippines needs US support to address economic and security challenges amid the pandemic. 

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